If Columbia football (0-1) wants a shot at victory this Saturday, it will have to find a way to contain Monmouth running back Julian Hayes.
Hayes was influential in securing Monmouth’s win over Holy Cross last week. Hayes and fellow running back Kwabena Asante each ran for more than 100 yards, with Hayes picking up 130 yards and a touchdown on 28 carries in the 21-14 win.
Monmouth (1-3) head coach Kevin Callahan hopes to improve upon the team’s 5-5 record in 2012. “It was important to get that game in the win column,” Callahan said, after the team faced three straight losses to start off the 2013 season.
Hayes has been an integral part of the Hawks’ offense for the past two seasons, making an appearance in every game since his first year. In his first season, Hayes’ explosive speed enabled 14 rushing touchdowns and 805 yards on the ground. He was named to the College Sports Journal All-Freshman Team and was also nominated for the inaugural Jerry Rice Award, which goes to the country’s top first-year student in the Football Championship Subdivision.
“I guess a lot of it came really fast. A few months prior to that I had just been getting situated with college,” Hayes said of his first year. “It encouraged me to work harder.”
During his sophomore year he moved into Monmouth’s top 10 for career rushing yards and touchdowns. He had a strong 11-touchdown season that included a regular season finale during which he ran for 143 yards and two touchdowns. Over the course of the first four games of the current season, Hayes has averaged a solid 104 yards per game.
“So far I feel like my performance has been good,” he said. “I still feel like I could have produced a lot more in the games we’ve played so far.”
“Julian is first of all an extremely hard worker,” Callahan said. “He’s very dedicated to making himself the best football player he possibly can.”
Hayes has high hopes for the rest of his junior season. “I feel like I’m poised this year to have the best year of my football career,” he said. “I think the sky’s the limit for this season.”
Callahan agreed, noting that Hayes worked hard during the off-season. As a result, he said, “His body is much leaner than it was a year ago, and with that came additional speed and quickness.”
Monmouth comes to Columbia this weekend for the first meet-up of these two teams in program history.
“We’ve got to make sure we’re a better team this Saturday than we were last Saturday,” Callahan said. “We know Columbia is a good football team. They’ve got a terrific running back themselves.”
Columbia cannot permit a repeat performance of last weekend, when the team allowed Fordham to gain over 600 yards of total offense. The Lions will have to be sharp if they hope to stop a confident, focused Hayes from racking up rushing yards in what is shaping up to be a memorable season for the Monmouth running back.